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You are here:2.2.3. The Maquipucuna Reserve

2.2.3. The Maquipucuna Reserve

The Maquipucuna Reserve is a 6,000 hectare privately owned and managed nature reserve, ranging in elevation from 1,000 to 2,800 meters above sea level.  Most of the Maquipucuna consists of steeply-sloped, undisturbed cloud forest which is mainly inaccessible.   The more accessible areas are along the road heading to the lodge, and in Second –growth near the lodge.   The number of bird species currently registered for Maquipucuna reserve is over 350 

The Maquipucuna forest is a good alternative locale to find many of the birds found in MindoValley and the lower TandayapaValley.



Lower, Middle and Upper Montane Forest



The Maquipucuna Reserve (The Paw of the Puma)

This site can be visited continuing along the Quito-Calacali-La Independencia Highway after visiting the Puluhaua Geo-Botanical Reserve or the La Mitad del Mundo area.

There are many buses running on the Quito-Calacali-La   Independencia Highway, and reaching the small town of Nanegalito is not a problem.  From Nenegalito you can easily hire a pickup truck to drive to the side road to Maquipucuna.

You can also take the Cooperativa San José de Minas bus.  The bus destination sign might indicate Nanegal- Palmitopamba-Playa Rica.   This bus runs twice daily in the morning and afternoon.  You can catch this bus at the La Ofelia bus terminal, or wait for it at the beginning of the Ave. Dr. Manuel Cordova Galarza driving circle.   This bus will go to Nanegalito and on to Nanegal, where you can hire a pickup to backtrack to the road to get to Marianitas and Maquipucuna.

The basic but charming and fairly cheap lodge is well run and managed. Most of the Maquipicuna´s avifauna can be seen in the lower Tandayapa valley and Mindo but this site is way more peaceful and inviting. During weekends and special holidays the Mindo valley could be crowded but Maquipucuna will remain quiet.

The Maquipucuna office in Quito can be contacted by phone during working hours at:  2507 200 or 2507 201.

Contact numbers from the USA and Europe, as well as other reserve information can be found by visiting:



The Maquipucuna Reserve

When driving on the Quito-Calacali-La Independencia Highway, continuing from the La Mitad del Mundo area, proceed down the road to the Calacali turnoff.  From this point, which we will call 0 km, drive down toward the lowlands for 5.1 km or 25.8 km from Quito.  After going through a toll booth there will be a turnoff to your left.   This road leads to Nono via the old Nono-Mindo road.   Continue for another 22.8 km along the main highway, or 48.6 km from Quito, and at a narrow bend with an exit in front of a series of three houses with a parking lot in front.  This is the Pauma Reserve.   Park here and visit the hummingbird feeders across the highway by the orchids on display.   The entrance fee is $2 per person.  This is the most reliable place for the White-tailed Hillstar.

Drive another 3.5 km, or 52.1 km from Quito, and after a bridge on a bend there will be a side road on the left leading to the Tandayapa Valley.   At further 4.3 km, or 56.4 km from Quito, you will reach the turnoff to the Maquipucuna reserve inside the town of Nanegalito. 

Click here to download (Map. Maquipucuna Reserve).

This turnoff to Maquipucuna is on your right after a series of grocery stores, and just before you start to go downhill. This exit is not signed and you might need to ask the local people.  If you have passed over a speed bump just as you leave town, you have missed the turnoff.   This side road heads to the town of Nanegal. Reset your odometer to 0.0 km for this spot will be the point for future references.  Drive for 12.3 km on this side road and at this point you will reach a turn off on your right, at this point there will be a big white house right at the fork.  Take a right hand turn and continue along for 0.9 km and you will cross a bridge at a fish farm.  From the bridge you should look up and down the stream for White-capped Dipper, and Green and Ringed Kingfishers.  

In further 2. 2 km, or 15.4 km from Nanegalito, you will reach the small town of Marianitas.   From this spot there are various sites you can stop and look for birds, and especially along the more forested ravines and close to the river.  The Maquipucuna Reserve lodge is just 4.0 km from Marianitas, or 19.4 km from Nanegalito.   At this point the covered bridge on your right is a good place to look for Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper.   Immediately after crossing the bridge you will see the Maquipucuna Lodge buildings. To get more information regarding Maquipucuna you should visit

There are several good trails to bird just behind the lodge.   A good strategy would be to start walking along the main trail and return by taking any of the loop trails back to the lodge.   The trails you choose to take will depend on your physical fitness, therefore you need to ask for the trail maps at the lodge and inquire there about the difficulty of each trail.  Most of them are easy walks.   Another fine alternative is to head back to the road across the bridge and just look for birds along the road.


Birds to look for

The Maquipucuna Reserve

Grasslands   (G), Second –growth (2G), Forest (F) hummingbird feeders (hf),

Rivers   (R)

Common: Roadside   Hawk (2G, F), Band-tailed Pigeon (2G, F), White-tipped Dove (2G, F), Smooth-billed   Ani (G), White-whiskered Hermit (hf), Brown Violetear (hf), Sparkling   Violetear (hf), Andean Emerald (hf), Purple-bibbed Whitetip (hf), Green-crowned   Brilliant (hf), Brown Inca (hf),  Collared   Inca (hf), Booted Racket-tail (hf), Violet-tailed Sylph (hf), Purple-throated   Woodstar (hf), Masked Trogon (F), Pacific Hornero (G), Red-faced Spinetail (2G),   Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner (2G, F), Slaty-capped Flycatcher (2G, F), Chocó Tyrannulet (2G, F), White-tailed Tyrannulet (2G,   F), Ornate Flycatcher (2G, F), Rusty-margined Flycatcher (2G), Brown-capped   Vireo (2G, F), Ecuadorian Thrush (2G, F), Three-striped Warbler(2G, F), Orange-bellied   Euphonia (2G, F), Golden Tanager (2G, F),

Blue-necked   Tanager (2G, F), Blue-winged Mountain-tanager (2G, F), Lemon-rumped Tanager (2G,   F).

Uncommon:  Torrent   Duck (R), Double-toothed Kite (2G, F), Plain-breasted Hawk (2G, F), Barred   Hawk (2G, F), Barred Forest-Falcon (F), Sickle-winged Guan (F), Plumbeous   Pigeon (2G, F), Red-billed Parrot (2G, F),    Bronze-winged Parrot (2G, F),  Little   Cuckoo (2G), Rufous-bellied Nighthawk (F), Tawny-bellied Hermit (hf), Green-crowned   Woodnymph (hf), Speckled Hummingbird (hf), Empress Brilliant (hf), Fawn-breasted   Brilliant (hf), White-bellied Woodstar (hf), Golden-headed Quetzal (F), Ringed   Kingfisher (R), Toucan Barbet (2G, F), Crimson-rumped Toucanet (2G, F), Pale-mandibled   Araçari (2G, F), Chocó Toucan (F), Olivaceous Piculet (2G, F), Black-cheeked   Woodpecker (2G, F), Uniform Antshrike (2G, F),  Plain Antvireo (2G, F), Slaty Antwren (2G,   F), Immaculate Antbird (2G, F), White-throated Spadebill (2G, F), Cinnamon   Becard (2G, F), Andean Cock-of-the-Rock(F),    Andean Solitaire (2G, F), White-thighed Swallow (2G, F), Whiskered   Wren (2G, F), Golden-rumped Euphonia  (2G,   F), Flame-faced Tanager (2G, F), Black-winged Saltator (2G, F), Yellow-faced   Grassquit (G), Chocó Brush-Finch (2G).

Rare: Fasciated Tiger-Heron (R), Dark-backed Wood-Quail   (F), Pallid Dove (2G, F), Rufescent Screech-Owl (F), Cloud-forest Pygmy Owl   (2G, F), Black-and-white Owl (2G, F), Rufous-bellied Nighthawk (2G, F), Crested   Quetzal (F), Giant Antpitta (F), Rufous-breasted Antthrush (2G, F), Yellow-collared   Chlorophonia (2G, F).

Copyright © 2010 by Lelis Navarrete

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Meet the Author

Lelis Navarrete – Birding tour leader. Lelis has 19 years of experience as a birding guide and naturalist in the field. He has led groups of birders throughout most of Latin America, guiding frequently in countries like his native country of Ecuador and in the Galapagos Islands, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Panama. A Biology B.Sc. graduate from Universidad Católica in Quito, Lelis has supported Jocotoco Foundation since its founding in 1998 and was an active Board Member until 2010 supporting Ecuadorian bird and wildlife conservation. Lelis divides his time between his two great passions in life: birding and spending time with his wife Solange and son Fabian with whom he lives in Quito.


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